The definition and magnitude of the intrinsic length scale are keys to the development of the theory of plasticity that incorporates size effects. Gradient plasticity theory with a material length scale parameter is successfully in capturing the size dependence of material behavior at the micron scale. However, a fixed value of the material length-scale is not always realistic and that different problems could require different values. Moreover, a linear coupling between the local and non-local terms in the gradient plasticity theory is not always realistic and that different problems could require different couplings. A generalized gradient plasticity model with a non-fixed length scale parameter is proposed. This model assesses the sensitivity of predictions in the way in which the local and non-local parts are coupled. The proposed model gives good predictions of the size effect in micro-bending tests of thin films and micro-torsion tests of thin wires.

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